NMDC: Norwegian Marine Data Centre

16 Norwegian institutions are establishing a research infrastructure NMDC that will provide seamless access to marine data, greatly increase the efficiency of marine science in Norway and facilitate the generation of high quality research.


Main objectives

To serve the marine science community with seamless access to documented marine datasets covering waters of Norwegian interest.

Long Term objectives:

• Establish a distributed national infrastructure for marine data sets including historical and contemporary data.

• Make Norwegian marine data sets easily accessible.

• Enable long term stewardship of datasets.

• Operationalize data flow from observations to users minimizing latency.

• Develop advanced applications, products and services.

Project Summary

NMDC infrastructure aims to fill the lack of an integrated sys-tem for exchange of marine data in Norway between institutions, hampering operational, efficient and cutting edge marine science. The infrastructure will give a general overview of and access to available datasets, by using common data formats, modern technical infrastructure for data sharing, and the ab-sence of inter-institutional agreements.

The heterogeneity of “marine data” is great and includes both the physical characteristics of the ocean and all the biota that inhabits it, and is far more challenging to deal with. Not only is the variety in the marine data great, but it also involves different science fields with different sampling equipment, tra-ditions and ways of operation and storing information.

The Norwegian Marine Data Centre (NMDC) will act as the coordination unit for marine data in Norwegian waters and provide seamless access to historical and contemporary marine data.

The partners represent universities, university colleges, re-search institutions and other relevant sectors all interested in making research data public available respecting the OECD principles and guidelines for access to research data. The marine data infrastructure will harmonize its activities and develop-ments with the principles of “Norway Digital” and contribute marine data and information to the national geographical data infrastructure. Standardization work will have to be devised in the view of the EU INSPIRE directive for geographical data and the “Geodatalov” in Norway.

Gaining access to large amount of high quality research data including long time series will facilitate generation of high qual-ity science and make Norwegian institutions attractive as part-ners in international research programs.

Vision and scientific goals

High quality and efficient marine research requires easy and rapid access to marine data across institutions and disciplines. The relative scarcity of marine data makes it all the more im-portant to make data that exist easily accessible for efficient use in science.

The infrastructure should simplify the technical obstacles sci-entists encounter when using data from various sources as well as provide cost effective interfaces for data providers. This is required to establish a sustainable system while ensuring proper stewardship for data, both in the short and long term. In order to realize the potential hidden in historical data sets currently

not documented nor stored in long term archives, the project need to undertake efforts in data archaeology.

Impact on science, technology and innovation

Data access and data infrastructure development is a societal priority in Europe. In 2009, it was discussed at the Monaco Conference “The Arctic: observing the environmental chang-es and facing their challenges” organized by the EU where all Arctic countries were attending (USA, Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland/Denmark). NMDC will position Norway as a leading country not only in marine data access and quality, but hopefully also in marine research due to the scientific stimula-tion following usage of NMDC.

Nations are required to base their policies related to the exploitation of marine resource on an ecosystem approach. Adopting such an approach is, however, rather difficult as it re-quires much data and insight pertaining to the dynamic interac-tions within the ecosystem.

The importance of mobilizing historical data on climate and biology for use in modern ecosystem based management is ob-vious. Many mechanisms and interactions in nature can only be revealed by the study of trends over time. Thus, efforts will be made in this project to identify and utilize information re-sources which have not been accessible formerly.

The access to a huge amount of data will create new possibil-ities and uncover new needs (statistical and theoretical) that will stimulate innovation in Norwegian marine research. The new analytical tools and theories will, through the normal scientific diffusion, become available worldwide and as such benefiting the international scientific community and society in large. A seamless data flow system as to be delivered by NMDC will also allow advancement in operational ecosystem modelling simulat-ing Norway’s marine ecosystems from end-to-end, much in the same manner that has been customary within meteorology for decades.

Project Details
Funding Agency: 
Research Council of Norway
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Lasse H. Pettersson
Project Deputy Leader at NERSC: 
Torill Hamre
Coordinating Institute: 
Project Status: